The fact that the two most favourite members of my family knew everything about what was going on with me, came with an odd combination of shock and relief. “How the hell did you know!?” I asked and kept waiting for an answer, realizing soon enough that the question hadn’t yet left my lips. I repeated the question aloud.
“Well,” uncle started, “someone informed us that you were getting involved with not so right people.” “Radhika…” I mumbled as I rubbed my temples. Ramya chuckled, “It is so not her.” I turned to look at her with a questioning look, but she decided against acknowledging it.
Uncle interrupted, “Whoever that could have been, when we came to know about it, I sent Ramya to keep an eye on you.” I turned to my sister again. She scolded, “What? Concentrate on uncle for now and let me nibble at my finger,” though she was only just observing me.
I thought aloud, “So Alisha was right when she said that Di was there that evening.” “Ah, so she told you her name,” Uncle smiled. “You should have seen her when she was fussing about how Alisha couldn’t visit our house,” Ramya laughed. I realized then: if she already knew what Alisha was, then I really must have made a fool of myself. “Do mom and dad know?”I asked her. “Nah they don’t,” Ramya waved her hand once.
I shook my head. “So how is all this related to Alisha?”
“The negative spirit has been feeding off of you and you have been letting it… or in better words, inviting it to do so,” uncle said.
I raised my eyebrows. “Alisha isn’t bad,” I almost protested.
“What do you know about her?”
“Just that she is… good… and helps me a lot when I am in need,” I shrugged, trying not to sound like that wasn’t a good enough answer.
“And why do you think you need a spirit to do that?”
“Umm… because… humans can’t understand…?”
“You know you are almost insulting Radhika here…”
“No I am not… I mean, Radhika can’t be with me all day, but Alisha can…” I was interrupted by my Ramya, “Obviously not when you are home.”
I turned to her, “How do you know that?”
“I create a shield every night around the house. Negative energy can in no way enter it… I made sure of that… and if Alisha isn’t negative, then that shield shouldn’t be blocking her… seriously, can’t you feel the drain?” she asked impatiently.
“How can you be sure that thing blocks only negative?” I was desperate to prove their theory wrong.
It was a relief when Ramya didn’t answer and gave an exasperated sigh. But uncle jumped in again, “The person who informed us about you knew Alisha when she was a human…” “She could have lied..” I protested again.
There was no sign of anger or annoyance on his face. He answered calmly- “You know, you aren’t the only one in the family who has this ability. Ramya has it, and I too. For starters, it is not good to mess around with things you don’t know yet. As for Alisha, I want you to stop talking to her as soon as possible. Now would be a good time.”
“You don’t know what it feels like being me. I have been feeling so lonely with all those people treating me like nothing, and she came as a relief. I am not going to send her away just because some freak told you that she is bad. She can’t be evil when she gave me so much happiness,” and I turned to Ramya, “and for your information, she doesn’t drain me.” I was almost shouting now. It was like this sudden outburst of energy all to prove myself right. Ramya didn’t say anything. She pulled me up and took me to the bedroom. She stationed me in front of the mirror. “Do you see yourself?” she asked. I wasn’t looking any different. The she pulled out her mobile phone and put the screen right in front of my eyes, just beside my view of the mirror. “Look.” She ordered. That picture was one she had taken a few months back, the day we shifted to our house. I noticed now. Back then I was healthy, my face had this healthy glow and my eyes looked happy. Right now, as I looked at myself in the mirror, it looked like I must have lost a lot of weight. There were dark circles around my eyes, and my face had lost all the healthy glow. It was more like I just had skin wrapped around my bones. I kept staring at the mirror. This had to be unreal.
“Got anything else to say?” Ramya asked. Uncle entered the room. “You only never knew how it was draining you. Your parents thought it was probably because of the tension of the exams then and after the fever, they thought it was the after effect of the illness.”
I turned to look at them, “But I don’t want to let go of her. She keeps me happy,” I was almost mumbling. Uncle knelt, “You know this isn’t the only way to keep happy.”
“I don’t happen to know any other way,” I didn’t want to cry, but my will didn’t matter.
“You could stand up against those who harm you instead of using mental tricks on them,” he said. Now that bit, only Radhika could have told him. “Alisha doesn’t complain against me,” I said slowly. Ramya said, “I promise you, it isn’t Radhika.”
I shook my head. There was no one else who could have known.
After a few moments of silence, uncle stood up. “It’s getting late. You people should be home by now. Wash those tears Alia, if you don’t want to be questioned about this whole business.” “What?” I asked. Ramya answered, “You think you could be believable while faking this?”
Uncle dropped us home. I was too tired to change to my night suit. I dropped on my bed and fell asleep almost immediately.
The next morning:
When I entered the class, Radhika smiled as usual, but for some reason, I couldn’t. I pretended as if I hadn’t noticed it and sat beside her, all the time feeling awkward doing so. I tried to act as normal as possible and thought I succeeded in doing so, until break came and she asked me what was wrong with me.
“How could you tell uncle about Alisha? I know you don’t like her, but please quit complaining.”
“What are we talking about again?”
“You told uncle about Alisha. They have known about it all along… and the brain game, stuff? What were you thinking, telling them about it!”
“They know?”
“Hey, don’t pretend anymore,” I warned her.
“No, wait. Did they tell you that I told them?”
“Of course they wouldn’t… but how hard is it to figure that out? Especially with Di specifying that it wasn’t you,” I shrugged.
“Did it occur to you that maybe it really wasn’t I who told them?”
“Oh, yeah? So maybe Alisha told them about herself, eh?”
“Look, I don’t know who it could have been, but it definitely isn’t me.”
“Yeah, right..” I snapped.
“Now don’t you take that tone with me,” she tried not to raise her voice.
“You know what? I don’t wanna talk to you anymore,” and without another word, I left her side and went to sit elsewhere.
We didn’t talk for the rest of the day.


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